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I get the impression frogs are the mascot for biology. Image Source

The study of biology is a complicated one. It’s a science subject that can trip a lot of students up for one particular reason.

Hold on though… If you have your own experiences with this then be sure to comment below with your advice. This isn’t the definitive and perfectly complete guide. What are we missing? Just let us know below.

Biological sciences are definition heavy subjects. In order to move from struggling to skilled you need to learn a new language. These are complex subjects that require a precise vocabulary to do well. If you don’t understand the subtle difference between seemingly similar concepts then you’re missing the point. It may not be a new language exactly but this is one of the best ways to think about it.

Once you understand the language of biology you’re going to be prepared to address the concepts you’re being taught. The concepts look tough at first but after you understand the language they look almost like common sense.

Your Top Priority: Learn The Language

Learning the language of biology can be treated like learning just about any language.

There are two powerful strategies for learning a new language.

1. Active Recall
2. Immersion

Active recall is the process of remembering information that you learned. I think about it like using flash cards. You read one side of the flashcard. Then you remember what’s on the other side of the flash card. This remembering strengthens your memory.

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Flash cards are awesome when you’re trying to learn vocabulary. It’s an easy way to guarantee you’re using active recall. Reading may give you the illusion of competency but everytime you flip that card you know whether or not you know. Image Source

Immersion is surrounding yourself in that language. It’s the way children learn to speak their first language. When you listen to a language long enough you’re going to learn it. It’s inefficient for learning the basics. It’s only becomes efficient once you understand enough to learn words organically (based on the words context.)

Both strategies are effective but the order is important. You should use active recall to understand the base of the language before you should immerse yourself in the subject. Once you understand the basics you have the tools required to start immersing yourself.

You don’t need to know exactly what phylum means at first but you need to understand enough words to have a clue what it means in context.

By learning the language of biology you’re building the foundation for the rest of the subject. It should be one of the first things you learn in each new section. The words are the tools that let the rest of the subject make sense faster.

I recommend using flash cards and mnemonics to do well in the biological sciences (zoology, botany, anatomy, etc.) It can be easy to get caught up making up thousands of flashcards and mnemonics to memorize everything but it’s unnecessarily complex. Just search on the internet for what you need. Odds are, someone already has an awesome mnemonic for what you’re trying to remember.

Why Biological Sciences Scare New Students

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You may be forced to learn obscure stuff at the start but it will (probably) get better. Stay strong! Image Source

When I first took Anatomy and Physiology, my mind was blown.

I went into the class thinking that I was going to learn about bones and muscles. I thought that would be a fascinating subject. I love the human body. It sounded fun. How hard could it be?

I almost instantly hit a wall in the class.

The first few months were almost completely dedicated to the biology of cells. Every class the teacher would lecture about proto-something-or-another while I’d sit wondering why we would possibly be focusing on such an obscure annoying part of the subject.

Memorizing bones and muscles isn’t all that hard. It’s just taking the time to do it. Memorizing super obscure words and processes that are also super obscure words themselves isn’t easy. It’s a serious challenge.

(I personally think these subjects are better approached starting at the easy to conceptualize areas but that’s not the way most classes work. They focus on the hardest to understand aspects first. Then they move onto the stuff that’s actually interesting for the average student.)

Many students ended up dropping out in the first few weeks.

Cellular biology may suck compared to learning about evolution and classifications of animals but it’s essential you survive it to get to the good stuff. Be prepared for this aspect of your subject to suck.

Zoology and botany may be about animals and plants but animals and plants are about cells. For better or worse, you can’t get to the good stuff until you’re willing to get through the tough stuff.

How To Do Well On Biology Tests

1. Use active recall to memorize the words.
2. Use mnemonics to link related words.
3. Understand the key concepts in each chapter.
4. Select classes based on positive teacher reviews.
5. Prioritize ruthlessly

Going Beyond The Basics: How To Understand Biology

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Understanding a subject is complicated. Learning words is simple. Understanding grows best with an amazing teacher. Image Source

By focusing on understanding the language you will have the base knowledge to pass most classes. It gives you the tools required to understand the concepts the first time you hear them. That’s a big deal.

Learning a subject goes beyond just understanding the words though.

If you want to go further into the subject (and do even better,) you need to worry about a few more factors.

For some more ideas you might be interested in reading these strategies.

Teacher Selection

This is a subject I bring up a lot but I only do it because it’s worth it.

Find a good teacher.

Sitting through a boring powerpoint lecture doesn’t help you learn. It’s a waste of your time. You might as well be skipping the class and doing something useful with your life.

If you get a good teacher then you’re going to learn dramatically more with dramatically less effort.

Use the following strategies to find a kick-ass teacher:

  • Ask other students
  • Look for reviews online
  • Switch classes if you’re not satisfied

By picking the right teacher you’re ensuring your ability to use class time efficiently.

What about non-class time?

Resources That Don’t Suck

Find resources that don’t suck. For biology, here is a pretty awesome starting point for understanding.


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Textbooks are good for references. They’re not good for learning. Image Source

Pitfalls: How Not To Learn

Do not count on your textbook to teach you anything.

Ideally, read it but read it fast and without stressing out about it. The only purpose of reading it is to ensure you know what things it goes over. Even skimming it might be acceptable.

Here’s a Pinterest-worthy image for sharing :)
Here’s a Pinterest-worthy image for sharing 🙂

Use the “key concepts” section of the textbook as if it’s the only thing you need to learn from the textbook. It’s not completely true but it will get you 80% of the results with almost no work.

Focus on using only the resources the teacher creates. Use that information to create priorities of what you need to learn. Once you have those priorities: use them.

Don’t worry about learning every obscure fact. Losing a point here or there won’t hurt you much. Losing points because you got stressed out and gave up will hurt you much more. It’s better to learn the words and then focus on the big picture.

After you know what to learn, use any source that you find interesting to reinforce the subject.

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How To Win In Biology – A Strategy Guide

Accelerated Learning Secrets First Written About In Shakespeare’s Times Reemerging And Being Conclusively Proven In Today’s Academic Journals

Professors Karpicke of Purdue University and Roediger, III of Washington University published an incredible paper that is making waves in the top rungs of Academia.

Colleges have taken pride in their ability to train the next generation of students for decades now. By subjecting their students to intimidating reading, long and immense lectures, and rigorous and unforgiving testing, they claim to have properly trained their graduates.

But modern research methods are calling those very claims into question.

You see… what these professors have discovered (and more are joining them every day) is shaking the very foundations of academia – all of the endless hours of studying, reading books, taking notes, and listening to endless lectures… doesn’t really teach students all that much – not even preparing them for the very tests they’re using.

The exact things that colleges and many professors have been encouraging are hindering students’ abilities to learn by occupying their time with ineffective methodologies.

Effective learning isn’t rocket science either….

“Francis Bacon wrote about these effective study strategies in the 1500’s – and the research is proving that we should have been listening to the preachers of this all along,” says Aaron Richardson, founder of Smart Student Secrets, a decade old, religiously followed, website dedicated to reintroducing these strategies to modern students.

“The reality is, the average university spends 4 years lecturing a student on what they could master in 6 months or less – if they used effective strategies.”

Confronting Mr. Richardson, I grilled him on the academic defenses of our country’s historic and prestigious Universities.

R: Doesn’t the work separate the wheat from the chaff? Give them work and those that best do it are better BECAUSE they worked harder to do it. The hard work itself is the target.

A: Assuming the wheat is the people that mindlessly follow directions and don’t have better things to do with their time… sure. But I’m advocating for the creative thinkers that are willing to challenge the status quo. They’re the wheat I’m giving my tools to.

R: But colleges say your strategies help you score higher on tests but not “understand” the material in a deeper way. Any response?

A: First thing, in academia, you’re judged on your ability to pass tests and answer questions – they have no other way. By their own standards, their strategies are worse.

Second, mull on any idea for a few years longer and you’ll have a deeper understanding of it. That’s the easy part. You do it every time you take a shower. The hard part is learning enough of the component parts to be able to mull it over. The sooner you do that, the sooner you can understand it deeper.

And one more thing…

I don’t really care if they criticize because the data speaks for itself. I advocate for the data their own studies are proving. They may be able to hide the truth for a while but it’s getting out and the longer they hold out, the worse it’s going to look for them – not me.

R: Mr. Richardson you have recently published a guide outlining his effective strategies in detail. It’s called, “How To Study Happier,” and has a 4 star review from students and some reviews making some pretty impressive claims. Right?

A: I’ve dedicated my life to helping students that are like the kid I used to be. And I guarantee that my book can help you get better grades – and if you’re not 100% satisfied with the changes then I’ll refund it completely. Show me one college that will do that for you!

R: So… Mr. Richardson, I’ve heard you’ve been taking some heat from academia over your claims.

A: For legal reasons, I have to keep my mouth shut on this one. All I can say is that I can’t guarantee my content will stay available much longer. Get it now or prices will be higher for legal reasons (if I can even keep the book available.)

Now is the time to click on the link I’ll add below, fill in the boxes, and get your copy today if you’re interested.

Get your copy of How To Study Happier


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6 thoughts on “How To Win In Biology – A Strategy Guide

  • December 23, 2020 at 2:09 pm

    Hello there. I discovered your blog by the use of Google even as searching for a similar subject, your web site came up. It seems great. I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks to visit then.

  • September 29, 2019 at 5:11 am

    Very good content, we intend to repeat this on our own blog site. Many thanks for sharing.

  • March 22, 2019 at 4:41 pm

    There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into consideration. That is a great point to bring up. I offer the thoughts above as general inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up where the most important thing will be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged around things like that, but I am sure that your job is clearly identified as a fair game. Both boys and girls feel the impact of just a moment?s pleasure, for the rest of their lives.

  • March 20, 2019 at 10:07 pm

    Thanks for shaing this information.Have shared this link with others keep posting such information..

  • December 9, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    I see why Biology can be so intimidating. There is an overload of information to people sometimes, especially if you are trying to knock out a required science class (coming from a different major). These tips are all great, and I could have personally used them back when I took my first biology class.

  • December 3, 2016 at 7:54 am

    Biology is one subject that most of us enjoy. Especially, the lab sessions are thoroughly enjoyable. If you are a nature lover, the better! But still, some people hate the practicals. The idea of dissection is just gross and unacceptable for many. I have seen girls fainting even. The idea is to get over your fears. Then its all fun! 🙂


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